Sunday, January 30, 2011

Ice Fishing

I've never been a fly fishing snob.  It is without a doubt my preferred method of pursuing fish and spending time, but I have spinning rods, heck even baitcasting rods.  I don't use them much anymore, but would certainly rather throw a sluggo than go to work.  I'm also more than willing to drill some holes in the ice a few times each winter and set some lines into the dark, cold depths.

It would be wrong to call it a passion, but waters in Maine are locked up for 4 months most years so if you want to fish, you need to come to terms with the options available to you.  There are certainly some rivers in southern maine that tend to remain fishable during all but the coldest stretches, but the fish are mostly newly stocked cookie cutters and frankly not that interesting to me.

One of the best things about ice fishing is how casual and social it is.  There really isn't any amount of prodigious skill required to drill some holes and suspend a minnow a couple of feet from the bottom.  Because of that, it encourages a bit more community.  The group of guys that I fish with in the winter are, like me, equipped with the bare essentials.  A few tip ups, a jigging rod, bait bucket and hand auger is all you need, and all we have.  We always walk to our spots, no matter how far or how deep the snow may be.  In the last year or so, we've begun to pamper ourselves by getting sleds for our gear and small portable shacks for the coldest, windiest days.  Another nice aspect of the fishing is that any notion of competitiveness is out the door.  We just want to see some flags and drink some coffee.  I'm nearly as happy to watch a friend pull a fish through the ice as do it myself.  Hell, let his hands freeze, I can wait my turn.

This weekend, I made it out for the first time with a couple of former co-workers.  We've been ice fishing together for a few years though we rarely see each other on the open water.  The fishing was slow, though there were a couple of flags to keep us awake.  The coffee was flowing and the banter came back as though we had never stopped working together.  I'd never want to loose touch with times like that simply because I made the mistake of rigidly defining myself as a fly fisherman.

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